Friday, October 19, 2012

Tigers vs. Cardinals: A 1968 rematch

If the Tigers play the Cardinals in the World Series, it will be a rematch of sorts of the 1968 Series, which Detroit won. Let's hope that happens, and that people stream into downtown for a celebration, like in '68.
That's been more than 40 years, and baseball is much different with pitch counts and fancy signs in Commerica Park. The city is too. The population has dipped below 1 million, and once thriving neighborhoods are gone, along with plants and factories that supported workers and the city.
But what hasn't changed is the split between the city and the suburbs. For some people, 1968 was the last time they ventured downtown. Let's hope that changes.
The 1968 season was a tense one for the city. The previous summer the simmering race issues in Detroit erupted into the riot of '67, and entire blocks were burned and the National Guard was called in to quell the violence. It also sparked "white flight" from the city, and many vowed never to go back to the city or downtown.
But that changed the day the Tigers beat St. Louis. It was an away game, so there was no particular place to celebrate, so the destination was downtown. I was a 20 year old kid at the time, so I just started driving around my west side Detroit neighborhood, where people on the streets where stopping cars and handing out beers. It was a much less politically correct era, thankfully. I picked up my girl friend, now my wife, in my '68 red Mustang and eventually ended up at the airport, hoping to see Tigers getting out of their plane. That didn't happen, so we headed downtown, for the lack of anyplace else to go.
It was a wild scene. Black and white people mingling in the joy of the moment, the ugly racial issues simmering after the riot gone for a few brief delightful hours.
I ended up at a party store on Jefferson Avenue, a place I wouldn't usually stop at, buying Wild Irish Rose wine, an inner city beverage I didn't usually drink. But it was the only stuff left.
I remember standing on a street corner drinking it was some black guys, who were celebrating too with the same stuff.
At that moment we were all Detroiters, black, white, and Hispanic. Let's hope that happens again this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment